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A Journey Beyond TV

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  • Tom's Guide
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June 29, 2006 2:34:31 PM

Mike Baggaley found that Beyond TV's recently released version 4.3 is sure to please HDTV viewers looking to roll their own flexible PVR.

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June 29, 2006 7:08:56 PM

Quote:
I think you made a little mistake in your article "A Journey Beyond TV". In the article, you state "you would only be able to fit...about one and a half hours of uncompressed high-definition television (HDTV) onto a 15-gig drive."
You either did not mean UNCOMPRESSED or you meant one and a half MINUTES of uncompressed HDTV. Here's the math at 1080p30:

1920 * 1080 * 24 (bits/pixel) * 30 (fps) / 8 (bits/byte) * 2^30 (bytes/GB) = 0.17GB/sec

At this rate, it would take just under 1TB for one and a half hours (0.17GB/sec * 60 sec/min * 90 min = 938.56GB) and 15GB would fit just under 90 seconds of video (0.17GB/sec * 90 sec = 15.64GB).


Hello Chris,

I appreciate your feedback. You're absolutely correct. True HD video would be all but unusable in its pure uncompressed form. My original
intent was to set up the comparison between the original MPEG2
transport stream output from the HD tuner which I referred to as
"uncompressed" in order to set up the comparison later in the article
with the further compressed WMV and DivX file formats.

Thanks again for your perspective.

-Michael
June 30, 2006 4:28:33 PM

Quote:
owners of Replay TV were sued for offering a 30-second skip option that was designed to skip whole commercials one at a time.


Actually, ReplayTV through the 5000 series had the ability to skip the entire block of commercials automatically, with pressing no buttons. This function and the ability to transfer shows between ReplayTV units across the Internet was what got them sued nearly out of existence. Only when the new owners (D&M Holdings) agreed to remove these two features did the lawsuits get dropped.

BTV 4.3 looks great, but it sucks that we have to be inconvenienced with 1-touch commercial skipping when 0-touch is easy to do and the end result is the same. I watch my ReplayTV 5000 often while I'm doing dishes, and I love not having to rinse and dry my hands, grab my remote, and hit a button just to skip a commercial block. I sure will miss it when it dies. :( 

Thanks for the great report on BTV 4.3. I'm glad you included details like the option to have shows transcoded automatically and on a delay. Those are key differentiators to a PVR application.
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June 30, 2006 5:16:31 PM

Yeah once you paste in a file GBPVR is also able to autoskip commercials and its a free program.
June 30, 2006 5:45:53 PM

Quote:
This function and the ability to transfer shows between ReplayTV units across the Internet was what got them sued nearly out of existence. Only when the new owners (D&M Holdings) agreed to remove these two features did the lawsuits get dropped.


Sadly, and against my own will, I can see the perspective of the people doing the suing. It's an interesting time for TV at the moment. The captive audience that advertisers have enjoyed since the beginning of TV broadcasting is dwindling. More than 10 million TV viewers in America alone are using DVRs to skip commercials. If things continue as they are, advertisers will quit throwing money at TV and it won't be long before the networks will need to take more drastic measures just to stay in business.

On the other hand Phillips has developed a rather stupid solution to the problem by offering a device that jams your IR remote during commercial breaks so you can't change the channel of skip the commercials. :roll: While this is a neat trick, what kind of a moron would purchase a TV/DVR with this device installed? I'm afraid that an approach like Phillips' is far too late to be viable.

It is still a problem though. I sure hope that we aren't witnessing the death of free TV, but I really can't say I'm going to bother watching a bunch of lame advertisements to try to keep it alive either.
June 30, 2006 10:39:06 PM

Unfortunately, I'd bet that the Philips device does not advertise that "feature" on the spec sheet.

The answer to lower ad revenues is easy: cut costs by no longer paying "stars" $1million+ per episode. Then the lower ad rates won't matter, and it will actually help most of the studios because it will no longer cost $100million to advertise their latest "blockbuster" movie on TV. It's a win-win for them.
July 3, 2006 7:01:14 PM

Quote:
Unfortunately, I'd bet that the Philips device does not advertise that "feature" on the spec sheet.


Supposedly Phillips has merely patented the technology and has no plans to use it. I'm with you though- If they ever do decide to use it, you can be sure that it won't make any product features list. :roll:

Quote:
The answer to lower ad revenues is easy: cut costs by no longer paying "stars" $1million+ per episode.


Yes, but then what will all the starving actors do when they are hospitalized for exhaustion?? :lol:  A bed in a good "tired hospital" doesn't come cheap you know!

-Mike
July 3, 2006 7:24:29 PM

I am posting this comment for a reader that sent his feedback in an email-
Quote:
Hello Mike, regarding your "Journey Beyond TV" I take issue w/the comment you
made: "in both comparisons, look at the pattern of the grass on the green, and the text on the scoreboard for clues to see the differences in quality of the files. To my eye, the WMV-HD high-quality format result in Figure 12 is very impressive!" -- I looked at that image very closely and blew it up several times, and the WMV-HD picture was about half that of standard High-Def. When highlighting the scoreboard it became extremely obvious that standard HD is far superior in quality. -- Thank you for listening to my comment. Keep up the hard work at TH.


Thanks for the email, You're definitely right Matt, the HD content in it's high-res MPEG2 TS format is spectacular and can't really be compared directly to the WMV-HD, however there's some pretty heavy limitations to the amount of video that you can fit onto a drive in MPEG2 TS. I'm sure that it won't be long before we won't bat an eye at an affordable multiple terabyte storage solution, but until then, the value of the compressed HD formats shines through the loss in overall quality. When faced with Huge high quality HD video and dwindling hard drive space; the compressed WMV and DivX HD files become an acceptable compromise while we wait for the storage hardware to catch up with our needs.

Stay tuned for a follow up article that will offer a more in depth comparison between the HD, WMV-HD and DivX-HD.

Thanks for taking the time out to comment Matt,

-Mike
February 19, 2007 6:37:32 PM

What type of device are you using to get the channels? Was this plugged into an over-the-air antenna? If so, which one? Will this work with Satellite, like DirectTV? I would like to build a HTPC that works with DirectTV, is that possible?
February 21, 2007 2:05:09 AM

ok here is the deal highdef is here and its great but not much records it besides over the air stations. The only way to get highdef off direct tv or satelite is somehow to use directtv DVR box to send the signal through firewire (not easy to set up or find a box that it works for).

Now we can still send the signal in to most tv tuners such as a PVR-150 through s-video and sound through a stereo rca input. In order to change channels you will still need a device called an IR blaster. I suggest the USB-UIRT. This stuff will prolly run you like $120 but I know it to work.

I will say that I have never used beyond TV but I'm sure it will supports these popular devices as I have read of people using them. If you have more time to fuss with something I suggest GBPVR as an app since its free. I wrote the article on how to set it up just run a search for it. I also suggest a free program called eventghost if your into programming remotes to control windows apps.

A media center pc is awesome but if you don't have the time a tivo is not a bad deal if you just want it for recording tv in hi-def. I have heard of some video capture devices that can record component video with stereo sound but I have yet to see any media center app that supports it. If your going to build your media center I wish you the best of luck because it's more work that you realize.
!